{Guest Post} Writing Tips from a Crotchety Editor: My Mom Went to Oxford and All I Got was this Lousy Comma

Writing Tips from a Crotchety Old Editor, Part 2: The Oxford Comma Old Editor Part 2

Friends: I’m stepping away from blogging temporarily to work on my second non-fiction book during NaNoWriMo and December. And maybe part of January, too. In my place, my own GHF Press editor Sarah Wilson is guest hosting a series on writing and editing here at RW&G. That’s right–I’m loaning you my very own fabulous editor. Enjoy! ~ Pamela

As the Oxford comma, also known as the serial comma, fades from use, I want to take a moment to spit into the wind of change and take a stand for the Oxford comma.

Despite its name, the Oxford comma is mainly used in the U.S., though decreasingly so. The comma is used as part of a list, prior to the final “and.”


  • With Oxford comma: Jose played the piano loudly, energetically, and fervently.
  • Without: Jose played the piano loudly, energetically and fervently.

In this particular case, the additional comma does not add clarity to the sentence, but I like writing to look consistent, so I would include it.

As many of you may have seen on Facebook, memes supporting the Oxford comma pop up all over people’s timelines. (OK, maybe that’s just my timeline.) Basically, the memes illustrate the dire consequences of not including an Oxford comma. Without it, you risk writing “highlights of his global tour include encounters with Nelson Mandela, an 800-year-old demigod and a dildo collector” (from an article published in “The Times” about Peter Ustinov).

I realize that most of the English-writing world no longer automatically uses the Oxford comma, and though I’d like to mount a rebellion against that tide, I realize I am one lone voice in a cacophony of saved ink, increased typing speeds, and Anglophilia (how’s that for mixed metaphors?). So, I will say this:

If you choose not to default to the Oxford comma, please always proof your writing for clarity. That dear old comma still has its place in your writing, even if only sporadically. Otherwise, we won’t know if you read about the rhinoceroses, Washington and Lincoln, or the rhinoceroses, Washington, and Lincoln.
Sarah J. Wilson is a freelance editor and writer, as well as editor in chief for Gifted Homeschoolers Forum. She writes at Watch Out For Gifted People and Homeschool Review.

About these ads

1 Comment

Filed under From Blog Post to Bookshelf

{GHF Blog Hop} Let’s Talk about Giftedness & Community

A conversation about giftedness and community  Pamela Price of RedWhiteandGrew


This month for the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum (GHF) November 2014 blog hop, Finding Community, I invited some members of my private online salon to weigh in on the following questions:

1. As a gifted person or parent of gifted kid, do you crave community? Why? What kind?
2. Where/how do you find community? Where/how does it find you?
3. What are some of the challenges that relationships within communities present for you?
4. How do you address or overcome those challenges?

Three people responded. Here are the responses in their entirety, with minimal editing from me.

From Caitlin Curley, My Little Poppies:

1. As the parent of a gifted kid, I do crave community. I crave it for myself, so that I have people with whom I can speak freely about my twice exceptional, gifted little guy. I want to be able to learn from others who have been-there-done-that and came through better for it all. I want to be able to ask questions of parents who have kids like mine, or of educators who have worked with kids like mine.

More importantly, I would love to find a community for my gifted child. We live in a small, rural town. The reality is, there aren’t many- if any- kids like mine in town. I would love for him to feel a sense of community, to know others like him, to be able to express himself freely and without reservation.

2. I’ve had to look online in order to find community. I am so grateful for GHF, Hoagies, and Davidson. I honestly do not know how folks did this before technology. It must have been so lonely. I’m still looking for a community for our son.

3. The challenges are lack of face-to-face, in real life, community.


4. I’d like to attend PG Retreats and other such events with my son, but it’s not in the cards this year.


From Celi Trepanier of Crushing Tall Poppies:

How do you find community? It is easy enough to find wonderful gifted communities online, but when you crave a like-minded person to sit down and chat with, you have to make more of an effort. Look to groups, clubs, teams and activities that focus on interests your own gifted child loves. Call or email the gifted supervisor for your school district, even if you homeschool, to see if there is a gifted parent support group in your area. Look on Facebook for local gifted groups and get involved in the conversation. And never be afraid to start your own gifted support group if you can’t find one in your area. Two years ago, out of pure desperation, I started a Facebook gifted parent support group, North Alabama Parents of Gifted Children, hoping to meet just a few other parents in the same boat I was in, and I ended up with more than I could have ever imagined!

From an anonymous responder:

The main problem I find in relationships outside (or even inside) of the gifted community is based in the fact that I am a multipotentialite, so I’m good at a lot of things (I often say I’m good at lots of things but great at nothing). But this tends to create jealousy or envy, in very odd corners of my world. One of my co-workers – with whom I have a very positive relationship – said to me once, “You know you’re the Golden Girl, right?” I didn’t really know what to say to that – I know it’s true in some ways, but it made me feel really dirty. I had another very close friendship (BFF-type) dissolve into nothing shortly after I started working near her and everyone kept saying how great I was and how glad they were to work with me. Friendship=gone. I’ve had this happen in school, in clubs, in friendship circles, in sports… pretty much everywhere. I’m not really sure what to do about it, because I don’t know *how* to tone it down – it’s who I am. I certainly don’t feel like I’m perfect or better than anybody else, and I *love* to help people. And I appreciate my extra effort being acknowledged, though I don’t need a big deal made – just thank you is sufficient.

I try not to make a show of doing stuff (I do a lot behind the scenes, too), and I don’t make a big deal about my participation in stuff because I don’t like being the focus of envy, but I feel it a lot.

But then also my perfectionism kicks in when I do something that *isn’t* up to par, so I can’t even tone that down!

Now, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. In the comments section, answer one or all of the questions at the top of the post or just riff on the responses shared. (And, yes, you can message me privately if you wish, via Facebook.)

P.S. There are lots of great posts today as part of the blog hop, but be sure to check out this one by my friend Jade Rivera, which includes a giveaway to her upcoming parent chat re: Holiday Stress and the Gifted Family.


GHF Blog Hop Stop for Finding Community | November 2014| RedWhiteandGrew.com


Filed under Homegrown Kids